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Copyright Guide - Alternative Publishing & Copyright Agreements


Traditionally, academic authors have signed over their copyrights to book and journal publishers in return for publication of their works. With academic authors' interest in maintaining control of their own works and their desire to achieve the level of access they want comes the concept of "unbundling rights," the practice of negotiating with publishers so that authors give away some of their rights, but retain others. Authors should read carefully the contracts sent by publishers and negotiate for what is important to them. One mechanism is to cross out objectionable language in standard contracts and substitute language that meets author needs. Following are links to some alternative publishing agreements.

The Open Access Directory maintains an extensive list of alternative publishing agreements and addenda.

SPARC Author Addendum Engine
SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has developed a web form for you to enter the author, title, journal and publisher information of your article and out pops the language you need for amending your copyright agreement to meet your needs. Four different licensing options are provided that will allow authors to maintain selected rights while granting the publisher the rights necessary for publication.

Creative Commons
Non-profit organization that offers sample license agreements for authors and creators.

Science Commons
An organization related to Creative Commons, "provides a point-and-click way for scholars to retain rights over their published material that otherwise transfer to the publisher."

Evolutionary Ecology Research: This journal was created by Michael Rosenzweig, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona, in response to spiraling inflation of commercial journals.

Public Library of Science License (PLOS)
PLOS has had extensive discussions with scientists, publishers and copyright experts about how authors who want to make their work freely accessible and useable can accomplish this while ensuring that they receive proper credit for their work. They have concluded that the best way to do this is for the authors and/or publishers to retain copyright on the work, but to irrevocably license the work to the public domain subject to the condition that proper attribution be given whenever the work is reproduced or redistributed.

International Mathematical Union
Executive summary for authors of research papers in journals.

Keep Your Copyrights: A Resource for Creators
Developed by faculty at Columbia Law School, this site provides helpful information and recommendations regarding managing rights for creators of all types.

Last modified: May 8, 2014